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The University of Southampton
Centre of Excellence for the Future of Human Communication

About us

The Centre of Excellence for the Future of Human Communication (FHC) is dedicated to developing digital technologies that will help people to communicate better. Its researchers are working on next-generation, accessible devices and systems that will improve healthcare and wellbeing, and enhance the way we learn, work, and consume entertainment and culture.

To support these innovations, the Centre’s researchers are advancing technologies that enable human-to-human and human-to-machine interaction, for example by enhancing the quality and intelligibility of speech in noisy environments, improving speech detection using sophisticated sensors and refining the technologies that enable devices to communicate with humans. They are also exploring the potential for devices that interact directly with the nervous system (known as brain/computer interface devices), building on the success of the University of Southampton’s work on cochlear implants. Underpinning all their work is a human-centred approach that puts users at the heart of the design process.

One focus of the Centre’s research is the design of digital communication tools for healthcare, such as apps for the remote monitoring of patients’ health. Such devices have been shown to increase patient engagement and empowerment, improve the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of services, and enable clinicians to identify and manage health issues earlier, improving patients’ quality of life. Its researchers are also developing technologies to enable greater participation in work, education and leisure for people with complex communication disorders such as deafness, speech impairments and autism.

Modern technology changes the way we communicate. We are developing new ideas to use technology to help people understand each other better

In addition, the Centre aims to steer future improvements in classroom and learning technology and devise digital communication technologies to support the modern workforce. It also aims to improve access to, and the experience of, entertainment, gaming and the arts.

Distinctive for the breadth of its expertise, the Centre enables researchers from a wide range of disciplines – from electronics and acoustics to psychology and linguistics – to join forces and bring fresh thinking to this multi-faceted field. It builds on Southampton’s track record of innovations in areas such as disabilities and app accessibility, assistive technology, machine learning, signal processing and 5G technologies.

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